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Return of the SnakePit Hatchlings Report - 8/22/10

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It's nice to return to online anonymity so that I can continue doing the exact same things I've been doing all summer.  : )  While there are only a couple of weeks left in the MiLB season, I'll be posting Hatchlings (Minor League) Reports every few days or so (usually M/W/F, though with my upcoming travel schedule, it may not be so regular) for whatever is left, just as I had for the D-Blog.  I'll try to focus on players with actual prospect/major-league potential, though will revert to minor-league journeymen if nobody is similarly notable.  Since we're traveling all day tomorrow, I figured I'd put one up today.  The rest is after the jump, in an exciting new font!

Triple-A Reno:

LHP Zach Kroenke - August 21 - 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R (0 ER), 6:1 K:BB, 0 HR, 5/2 GO/FO.

If we need someone to eat innings in the back of the rotation when we shut down IPK and Benson isn't ready, I'll bet that Kroenke tops the list of candidates (though I'll probably end up being wrong), seeing as how he's currently the most effective starter at Reno and is also already on the 40-man roster.  He may not have a future beyond a simple swingman, but 26:10 K:BB ratio as a starter in 2010 with a 1.13 ERA in that role is undeniably impressive, even if his 35:24 K:BB ratio and 5.23 ERA as a reliever aren't.

Double-A Mobile:

RHP Josh Collmenter - August 21 - 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 6:0 K:BB, 0 HR, 9/5 GO/FO.  1-2, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K.

Collmenter drove in as many runs with the bat as he allowed on the mound in seven innings on Saturday, in his first start at Mobile since being demoted to allow Bryan Augenstein to reclaim his rotation spot for Reno.  The big right-hander has some potential in the late innings out of the 'pen with a wind-up and delivery that has a ton of deception, and a plus change-up that is incredibly effective since the ball comes out of the back of his head.  Whether or not he can make it as a starter is another question, though he may have a chance to earn a spot in 2011's rotation in Spring Training.

Hi-A Visalia:

RHP Charles Brewer - August 20 - 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R (4 ER), 12:1 K:BB, 1 HR, 4/0 GO/FO.

LHP Pat McAnaney - August 21 - 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R (2 ER), 14:0 K:BB, 0 HR, 1/2 GO/FO.

Back-to-back incredible nights of strikeouts and horrendous bad luck on balls in play.  Welcome to the Cal League, I s'pose.  Brewer really settled in at Visalia since his first start, and Friday's incredible bat-missing extravaganza shows that the kid could really rise quickly through the system, despite his relatively unheralded draft status.  Considering the fact that every time the ball went in the air it ended up as a hit, it's hard to say that the four earned runs Brewer allowed were really his fault.

McAnaney had similarly horrendous luck, if not worse.  He struck out over two batters per inning of work, and refused to walk a single batter in his first start back at Visalia after being demoted from Mobile to make room for Ryan Cook, who struggled in his first outing for Mobile.  He struck out the side twice, and K'd two batters in every other inning.  That's impressive.  He's clearly better than Hi-A, though he also struggled pretty mightily in Double-A, albeit improving after the ASB.  Not a great place for a 24-year-old to be, unfortunately.

Low-A South Bend:

RHP Adam Worthington - August 20 - 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 5:0 K:BB, 0 HR, 6/9 GO/FO.

2B David Nick - Last Three Games - 5-15, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 0:0 K:BB.

It's generally been a rough transition to starting for the sprite (5'9") Worthington, who had a 1.17 ERA in 11 relief appearances before moving into South Bend's rotation.  In eleven starts, including Friday's fabulous outing, Worthington's ERA has been an unbelievable 8.20.  Why is it so unbelievable?  As a reliever, Worthington had a 26:5 K:BB ratio in 23 innings with one home run allowed.  As a starter, Worthington has a 27:5 K:BB ratio in 26 1/3 innings with two home runs allowed.  Aside from a 5% drop in ground-ball rate (with LD% remaining constant), Worthington's rates have remained almost exactly constant.  But, incredibly, Worthington's .276 BABIP as a reliever turned into a staggering .507 BABIP as a starter, a shining example of the definition of unsustainable.

On the other hand, Nick's transition - to the third spot in the lineup - has been phenomenal.  A bit of pop and plenty of contact - precisely what you would expect to find in the "strengths" portion of a David Nick scouting report.  For someone who is hoping to build up some prospect momentum going into a possible repeat of Low-A to begin the 2011 season, a strong finish is great to see.

Short-Season-A Yakima:

OF Justin Hilt

- August 22 - 3-3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 0:1 K:BB, 1 SB (0 CS).

Hilt has been solid for Yakima heading into tonight's game, despite his .229 batting average, with a .354 on-base percentage.  However, for someone typically manning the corner outfield spots, he needed to have a bit more power than his  .354 slugging percentage prior to tonight.  Well, Hilt apparently noticed, as the 2010 36th-round pick racked up seven total bases in three at-bats to go with a walk and a stolen base.  The 22-year-old really has very little prospect value, and his draft position isn't likely to lend him many second chances in the system, but tonight's display was certainly impressive.

Rookie-level Missoula:

LHP David Holmberg

- August 21 - 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 8:1 K:BB, 0 HR, 7/3 GO/FO.

RHP Kevin Eichhorn - August 22 - 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R (0 ER), 5:1 K:BB, 0 HR, 5/3 GO/FO.

OF Adam Eaton (thank you for having already purged the pitcher from your database, Auto Tag & Link) - August 22 - 2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1:1 K:BB.

3B Eric Groff - August 22 - 3-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1:0 K:BB.

Ever since the Edwin Jackson trade went down, all three pitchers involved have made incredible leaps in production at their respective levels.  Jackson has a 1.35 ERA and 24:5 K:BB ratio for Chicago in 20 innings over three starts.  Daniel Hudson has been Arizona's best pitcher, with a 27:4 K:BB in 29 2/3 innings of work, with a 2.12 ERA.  And Holmberg has been exceptional for Missoula, with a 25:5 K:BB ratio in 22 innings of work, although his .396 BABIP has unfortunately led to a 3.86 ERA despite those incredible rates.  Holmberg definitely is pitching himself into a South Bend rotation spot for Opening Day 2011, and his polished change-up and curveball could put him on a quick-rise path through the D-backs' system.

Needless to say, Missoula won today, though just by a final score of 5-4, with Eichhorn, Eaton, and Groff essentially carrying the team.  Eichhorn continues to miss bats at will for Missoula, with 63 K's in 64 2/3 innings of work, though the home run bug has bitten him often.  Eaton has perhaps been Missoula's best all-around player, manning center field and consistently keeping his OBP and SLG over .500 with a little help from a high BABIP (.441) - his current line of .378/.506/.580 gives him the highest OPS in the Pioneer League, with his 1.086 mark easily edging Jake Lemmerman of Ogden's .982 clip.  Even without as much help from BABIP, Eaton's 33 walks (3 intentional) and 19 hit-by-pitches (this actually can be a skill, oddly enough, for those who crowd the plate) give him the profile of an on-base specialist.  Groff, despite overall struggles, is no stranger to huge games, as he became the second player in Missoula history to his three home runs in a single game earlier this year.

Rookie-level Dominican Summer League:

OF Socrates Brito

- August 21 - 2-3, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 3 R, 0:1 K:BB.

This will be the only report I do on the DSL this year, as their season just ended on Saturday, and it wasn't Wagner Mateo who starred for the DSL D-backs.  In fact, Mateo recorded a DNP in what may be his last game with the DSL affiliate, as he might head stateside to play with Missoula in 2011.  Instead, it was Brito who was the star, scoring three of the DSL D-backs' nine runs against the DSL White Sox.  Brito might not be long for the DSL himself, particularly with the finale he had to this season and his impressive .363 on-base percentage for the year.  His power was lackluster, but acceptable for a 17-year-old kid.

Others of Note:

 - Triple-A Reno left fielder (see what I did here?) Brandon Allen hit his 24th home run of the season tonight against Tacoma.

 - Bryan Augenstein returned to Reno only to cough up another 4 earned runs in 4 innings pitched.  He continues to be extremely hittable, allowing eight hits, including a homer, despite striking out five batters.  It's getting to the point where it's concerning beyond BABIP.

 - Mobile first baseman/third baseman Bryan Byrne reached base in all five of his plate appearances in Friday's loss to Carolina, drawing two walks and hitting three singles.

 - With a stolen base on Friday and a pair of stolen bases on Saturday, Mobile center fielder Evan Frey has 31 on the season, though he has been caught 12 times.

 - Hi-A Visalia center fielder Alfredo Marte had a strong game in the leadoff spot for Visalia earlier today, recording three singles and two walks in a perfect 5-5 day getting on-base.

 - Top third base prospect Matt Davidson hasn't gotten off to a scorching start for Hi-A Visalia, though his .250 BABIP likely is part of the reason why.  His 5:4 K:BB ratio is encouraging, though.

 - Center fielder Keon Broxton of Low-A South Bend tied the all-time single-season triples record with his 19th triple of the season on Friday.  The record was originally set in 1954, by... somebody.  : P

 - Lefty Michael Belfiore had a solid six-inning, one-earned run start for South Bend today, though his problem with allowing unearned runs surfaced again today, as five runs not attributed to Belfiore crossed the plate.

 - Lead-off man and second baseman Michael Freeman has been solid for Yakima in his last five contests, with seven hits, including a triple, and three walks to one strikeout.  The two-time D-backs draftee, in the 36th round in '09 and the 11th round in '10, also has two stolen bases, and is 16-18 in stolen base attempts in 2010.

 - It's been a horrible year for speedy 18-year-old utilityman (he's played both in the middle infield and all over the outfield this year) Antonio Sepulveda, but with five hits, including a double, in his last three games, the young Dominican may be piecing things together.

 - Mateo ended the DSL season as the DSL D-backs' top player in terms of OPS (min. 50 PA's), and was the only member of the DSL D-backs with a slugging percentage over .400 (.401).

 

As I mentioned in the beginning, not sure when I'll get around to the next report, but look out for it soon.  If you need more, check out the D-blog (there's a link in the left sidebar on the main page), where I wrote many of these during my internship, and where there is also a bunch of great stuff from my once-boss.

Final shameless plug for the D-blog complete.